FOLLOWING the purported reports on the entry of the African swine fever (ASF) into the country, a group of local meat processors has advised its customers to refrain from conducting deliveries of processed meat products to Cebu and Bohol to avoid being blamed in case the ASF breaks out on the two island-provinces in the Visayas.
According to the Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI), the two island provinces are highly susceptible to ASF due to the large number of daily arrivals of local and foreign visitors from reported ASF-infected areas in Luzon, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and South Korea.
It can be noted that there are daily flights to Cebu from Clark in Pampanga as well as international flights coming from China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Vietnam.
Travelers have been identified by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) as among the carriers of the ASF virus.
In order to ensure a no-risk status, travelers need to undergo quarantine disinfection procedures upon arriving at the airports or seaports on the two said island provinces.
Aside from travelers, animal disease experts have earlier claimed that the potential carriers of the ASF virus are infected animals, swill feeds, ticks and flies, as well as contaminated vehicles, equipment and even clothes.
The group said that processed meat products are not among the listed carriers.
Both the OIE and BAI have confirmed that processed meats, when cooked at a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes, cannot spread the ASF virus because in case it is present, the virus is killed or eliminated at such temperature.
At least 65 provinces have already imposed arbitrary ban on processed pork products from Luzon amid the spread of ASF virus which does not pose a threat to humans but could decimate the swine population.
Only the provinces under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao did not impose the ban as most of its population don’t patronize pork.
ASF is a highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease that affects only domesticated and wild pigs of all ages.
It is characterized by high fever, loss of appetite, hemorrhage in the skin and internal organs, often resulting in death which follows from two days of infection.
As of now, there is no vaccine or treatment available against the ASF.
Experts from the BAI suspected that swill feeding of pigs may have caused the outbreak.
BAI experts said ASF can be transmitted by direct contact, ingestion of garbage/swill feeds containing unprocessed infected pig meat or pig meat products, ticks and biting flies or contaminated premises, vehicles, equipment and clothing.
About 65 percent of hog raisers in the Philippines are backyard growers who do not regularly subject their animals to veterinary inspection and who mainly rely on swill for feeds.
The ASF scare is killing the Philippine swine industry which had a population of 12.78 million heads as of July 2018.
The Philippines is the world’s eighth largest pork producer. ([email protected]/PN)